It’s been nice to spend a few nights in my own bed. It's amazing how much we all have a maternal draw to our duvet, our soft pillows and that very spongy mattress. Like most busy people, I dart from place to place, hotel to hotel, train to plane and back home again. This week I added something new – I slept rough for a night. And by “rough”, I mean an organised event (www.bytenight.org.uk), with lots of security and someone on hand to provide cups of tea at 3am in the morning!
The one thing that was “rough” however, was the elements. A wicked combination of incessant rain and arctic-cold wind, completely drenched my clothes, sleeping bag and pillow. It was an experience. One that I will remember (rather than cherish) and one that has made me realise how tough these kids on the streets have it (www.actionforchildren.org.uk). The hardship that they, and thousands of others go through every day must be horrific – with little hope in most cases.
I then experienced the polar opposite the very next day, but for an equally great cause - involving a trip to London for the launch of Cancer Central (www.cancercentral.org.uk) – staying in a nice hotel, putting on my tuxedo and enjoying the comforts of warm food and prosecco. ROQ are a strategic partner of this amazing new social enterprise and are very proud to get behind this venture, by providing our time and support.
Now, this post isn’t about my martyrdom. Anything but. There are many amazing people who do a significant amount more for charity than I do, and they certainly put themselves through more gruelling tasks and personal pain for great causes. This post is really about the spirit I have seen over the last few days and the amazing things that can be achieved by people who get behind great ideas.
ROQ did all of the testing work on the Cancer Central portal and will be heavily involved going forward – particularly with the AI technology which will take the portal to the next level (exciting times). The one stand-out that the ROQ team continually flagged during Phase 1, was that the collaboration between the contributing parties was incredible. It was a project that had real strong leadership, a common goal, no politics or finger pointing, and a real desire to do good – and guess what…..it went in on time, people had fun and it looks superb.
At the launch party, I also had the chance to meet some of the leaders behind the other companies who are supporting Cancer Central – the tech companies, the finances and the entrepreneurs. These people are top drawer – very successful, well respected, but hugely humble. They epitomise strong leadership in my view. They have provided expertise and mentorship, have challenged and expanded people’s minds along the way – all to push the boundaries of what is possible and most of all, they have done it with the best intentions.
At ROQ we are proud to support to this and a whole host of charities and great causes – from building a toilet in Chad, to fundraising for a local hospice for terminally ill children. These ideas come from the team and have an emotional connection to someone, or a group of people, in the company. These initiatives drive engagement, they focus positivity and they generate a great team spirit. We are passionate about helping those less fortunate – and we are in a very privileged position to help.
I saw first-hand the hardship of one night in the rain – I hope to never have to face that every day – Action for Children can now use the money we collectively raised to prevent youth homelessness. I have seen friends and colleagues suffer with cancer – and I am pleased to say that most people have come through it - now Cancer Central will help those people at each stage going forward. In one weekend I saw what human kind, when pointing in the right direction, with the right spirit, can do to help these causes.
I therefore call upon all business owners, no matter how big or small, to do your bit. It’s not about ticking a CSR box; it’s about making a difference. It has a positive impact on your people, your brand and creates a hugely positive impact – and as an entrepreneur and leader, that is what you should be getting out of bed for every single day.